Fuller Picture

There are people in our lives that we only know in one context. We may see and interact with them on a regular basis but we only see them in one setting. We may begin to think we know them but in reality we are missing entire portions of their lives. If we see them in a more formal setting, we may never picture them relaxing or enjoying their family. If we only see them in a work setting, we may not realize the hobbies or types of recreation they enjoy. I remember growing up and only seeing our Pastor at church. He was always in a suit and always carried himself with reserve and dignity. When I became friends with his son, I was invited to their house to watch sports and hang out. I remember being somewhat shocked to see our Pastor in a whole different setting. Of course, he was the kind of guy who dressed down and mowed the lawn in a cardigan and dockers but it was still interesting to see him relaxed and cheering for the Browns.

Too often, the questions we have about God are because we have a limited of view of who God really is. We define him by a few of his qualities. This distorts our view about how he should act. For instance, it is very popular to state that “God is love”. That is a true statement that is even deeper and fuller than we can imagine. God does not just love, but he is the very essence of love. He loved so much that he gave his Son to die so that we could live eternally. It is an awesome and rich thing to say that God is love. But when we only define God only by his love, we begin to question when he does things that we believe are contrary to this truth. If we do not know that God is also equally rich in justice and holiness we will question his decision to punish people in hell forever. This truth about God does not compute with our picture of God being a God that is loving. We cannot exalt one aspect of God’s character above another without distorting the full picture of who God truly is.

We make this same mistake when we believe that as Christians our only purpose is to be loving and kind. While that is a huge part of being a Christian, and a part that is meant to shout to people that we are followers of Christ, it is not our only role. We are to be salt and light. We are to be ambassadors. We are to be holy. We are to love our fellow Christians enough that when they are caught in a sin, we are to do what we can to rescue them. We are to speak the truth in love. It is shallow and unfaithful to the roles that we are given to be silent about sin. Jesus never overlooked sin in the name of being loving. In fact, it is never loving to overlook sin that leads to destruction. True, Peter tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins” but that statement is not an excuse to allow someone to continue in destructive sin but it is a truth designed to allow our love to cause us to be patient and to pick the right time to help others. It is never loving to support and condone someone’s sin. It is loving, though, to support someone while they struggle with sin. One of the biggest issues we face today are those who are struggling with their identity. We need to have many conversations about how to best lovingly speak to the sin as sin and to lovingly walk those who are struggling through this sin. What we can never do, is sacrifice our holiness by excusing sin in the name of love.

How can we keep and develop a fuller picture of who God is and who we are to be? The only way is to get out of our own heads (our thinking is too limited) and to allow God to speak to us through the Spirit and the Word. It is only through regular exposure to the Word of God that we will continue to develop and gain the full picture of God and us as a new creation. We should also remind ourselves that this study is a life time challenge. The fullness of God is infinite. His love, justice, holiness, righteousness, beauty...his full character...is so vast that we will spend eternity learning of him.  

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